Chinese, a Key to Understand China——Belgium Regional Final of 17th Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students

[Source]    People’s Daily [Time]    2018-05-09 16:43:31 

The Belgium Regional Final of the 17th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students was held at the China Cultural Center in Brussels a few days ago. Themed “One World, One Family”, this year’s competition consisted of three parts, namely, keynote speech, talent show as well as question and answer. 9 candidates from various universities in Belgium contended for the first place. After three rounds of fierce competition, Sara Correia from ISTI-Brussels (Department of Translators and Interpreters of Free University of Brussels) stood out and won the first prize.

“One World, One Family” written by contestants on the stage

“I love China and I love Chinese”

In keynote speeches, contestants were expected to explain their understanding of the theme “One World, One Family” in 3 minutes, while the Q&A section focused on testing their familiarity with Chinese culture. Marie Kazemi from ISTI-Brussels took the lead in giving a speech in which she talked about her two-and-a-half-year of Chinese learning as well as her multicultural background. Soon after, she elaborated the understanding of “One World, One Family” combined with her own growth environment. “People from different cultural backgrounds can live in harmony just like a family, and Chinese serves as the very key for us to understand China.”

“I went to China after studying Chinese for three years. Although I stayed in Guangzhou for just one year, I left my heart there forever,” said Tanika Parton, a master candidate in the University of Leuven, in her keynote speech, “My life in China that year was very happy and it helped broaden my horizon.” She hopes for another opportunity to go to China to explore more China’s unique beauty.

In the talent show section, the contestants presented the judges and audiences with some of their unique skills showing their enthusiasm for Chinese culture, such as piano solo of Chinese famous tune “Butterfly Lovers”, recitation of ancient poetry and singing. Jasper Roctus, a junior student from the Department of Languages and Cultures of South and East Asia, Sinology Ghent University, sang an unaccompanied “Dongfang Hong” to express his love for China. Though a little out of tune, he sang wholeheartedly in special appeal.

Parton also showed his outstanding skills in Chinese calligraphy at the scene by writing four big charming characters “One World, One Family” in just several minutes. After that, a challenging performance from the play “Shi Yuzhu” was given by Correia and Kazemi, winning bursts of applause not only for their accurate and clear dialogue, but for their performance with every character brought to full play in the most humorous way.

Melissa Mortier, a graduate student from the Department of Sinology at the University of Leuven, has a very beautiful Chinese name - Mo Li(Jasmine). She shared in the speech her experience of Chinese learning, "When in middle school, our curriculum was Europe-oriented. However, nowadays, as China figures prominently in the world, it is definitely worth my while.” In order to study China, she embarked on her journey of Chinese learning five years ago. Mortier was much impressed by her learning experience in China in 2016. She said that China is a multicultural country that is very friendly to all people in the world. “People from different countries with different cultural backgrounds should become a family through active communication and mutual understanding. This is a dream I have always been pursuing. Only by working together can a better future be created.”

Correia, who eventually came out on top, said excitedly in an interview with People’s Daily that taking the first place was a great achievement. In 2016, she participated in a summer camp in Shanghai, China, studying drama performance under the guidance of a Chinese teacher. “I am fascinated by Chinese culture. I love China and I like Chinese!”

Bridge to Enhance Friendship

Hosted by the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), the “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, known as the “Olympics in Chinese language”, is the largest Chinese language competition in the world in terms of scale and influence. 16 sessions have been held since 2002, with hundreds of thousands of participants from more than 100 countries and regions in the world, among whom more than 3000 college students have come to China contending for both semi-finals and finals.

Zhang Chi, Charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium, was invited to attend the event and deliver a speech. The theme of this year’s competition “One World, One Family” embodied the traditional Chinese culture featuring pursuit for harmony and love of peace, echoed the idea of building a community of shared future for mankind, and reflected the common aspiration for co-existence of all nations in the world, he said. He hopes that the prize-winners would not only have a deep understanding of the rich connotation of “One World, One Family”, but also strive to become friendly messengers promoting exchanges and cooperation between the two peoples of China and Belgium.

The competition was undertaken by the Chinese Embassy in Belgium and co-organized by Yellow Vitamines ASBL. In previous competitions, Belgian contestants have made remarkable achievements time and again, with the world championship bagged by Belgium in the eighth round.

Recent years have witnessed a boom of Chinese teaching in Belgium. Currently, apart from the establishment of sinology departments and Chinese translation majors in several universities, there are six Confucius Institutes in the country. Courses on Chinese and Chinese culture are also offered in nearly 50 primary and secondary schools and more than 40 adult education centers. Institutions offering Chinese teaching have basically covered the entire country, greatly facilitating the learning of Chinese and Chinese culture among Belgian students and citizens.

Philip Vanhaelemeersch, one of the judges and Foreign Director of the Confucius Institute at the Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen in Belgium, told reporters that the overall level of participants in the competition was relatively high, with both fluency in Chinese and familiarity with Chinese culture.

“With the rapid development of China’s economy and its rising international status, Belgian students have become increasingly interested in Chinese study and there have been more and more Chinese learners. The Chinese Bridge competition has become a bridge promoting friendship between China and Belgium,” said Vanhaelemeersch.

(Story and Photos by Ren Yan, People’s Daily, Page 21, May 4, 2018)